Jacksonville State Defeats North Alabama 47-31 In Front Of 10-Thousand-Plus At Toyota Field
MADISON- The uniqueness was as much as the level of excitement for the first-ever football game played at Madison’s newly built Toyota Field. When all was said and done, the 10,124 announced crowd witnessed a super-charged, long standing rival game where the Jacksonville State Gamecocks defeated the North Alabama Lions 47-31.
“I really thought it was a neat environment,” said Rich Rodriguez head coach of Jacksonville State. “I was a little leery going into it because I’ve never played on a baseball field, but it worked out fine.”
The Gamecocks opened the scoring less than five minutes into the battle scoring on a nine-yard run by Anwar Lewis after the Lions turned the ball over deep in their own side of the field. The Gamecocks scored twice more in the first quarter on a Matt LaRoche 10-yard run and a 25-yard pass by Ron Wiggins from quarterback Zion Webb to open a 21-nothing lead after the first stanza.
North Alabama went on a 14-play, 75-yard drive and capped off with a 9-yard pass play from Noah Walters to Corson Swan to cut the lead to 14 points, but Jacksonville State scored twice more to up their lead to 31-17 with less than two minutes to play in the first half. The Gamecocks scores came on an Alen Karajic 24-yard field goal and a Webb 20-yard scoring scamper. The Lions were able to counter with a score of their own just before intermission on a Walters to Takairee Kenebrew 12-yard pass making the score 31-14.
In the 50th meeting of the two in-state rivals, North Alabama came out of intermission with two scoring plays in the first six minutes of the third quarter as star running back ShunDerrick Powell scored on a brilliant 52-yard run and Walters to Demarcus Lacey pass of five yards put the Lions within three points of the Gamecocks.
Jacksonville State flexed their muscles soon after with a 32-yard field goal by Karajic and a 60-yard TD run by Lewis who finished the game with 165 yards rushing.
The fourth quarter featured no touchdowns, but instead three field goals. Sam Contorno of North Alabama hit on a 32 yarder while Karajic hit from 38 yards and 29 yards to cap the scoring on the beautifully manicured playing surface at Toyota Field.
The victory was Jacksonville State’s sixth straight and 12th out of the last 13 against North Alabama and still lead the overall series record 19-18-3.
Webb finished 12-17, 154 yards, while Walters was 19 of 33 for 302 yards and three touchdowns, but also had two interceptions on the day. On the ground, Powell finished with 118 yards on 17 carries while Lewis averaged eight yards per his 21 carries. LaRoche carried the ball 16 times for 90 yards as the Gamecocks rolled up 350 yards rushing. The Lions countered with over 300 yards passing and 148 rushing.
Jacksonville State is now 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference while North Alabama fell to 1-5, 0-2.